Strat® guitar-wielding 18-year-old Texas guitar phenom is riding high these days …
Bryant with his Shell Pink Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster.
Photo by Maryanne Bilham
Tyler Bryant is in Nashville on the afternoon of May 14, still a tad groggy after a marathon run to Amarillo, Texas, and back with his new band to open for Styx and REO Speedwagon two nights before.
“A 30-hour drive for a 30-minute set,” Bryant said. “Which is OK, but very tiring. But we had a blast. It was our fifth show together, and we walked out in front of 5,000 people. It was really fun.”
Don’t ask him where he’s off to next, though; he hasn’t the faintest idea, and consequently breaks into laughter halfway through his next sentence.
“Man, I don’t keep up with any of the dates—I just get in the van and go,” he said. “I just lay down in the back of the van, and they wake me up when we get there.”
The rest of us seldom get to sound that cool. His bass player reminds him that the next show is on the 26th in San Diego, followed the next day by a showcase in Los Angeles at the Mint. Suits will descend on that particular gig seeking to woo the youthful singer-songwriter-guitarist.
“There’s a lot of record label interest right now,” Bryant said. “For the last six months I’ve been writing like a madman. All the time. I’m staying focused on that. So it feels really good to get out and play.”
Certainly, the Texas-born Bryant is one of the Fender artist relations department’s youngest endorsees. Take a listen, and what he does with a Stratocaster® guitar belies his mere 18 years. The guys boasts old-soul talent and devotion to craft that bodes well for a long and successful career. YouTube him sometime and see what he does with “Foxy Lady,” a Hendrix staple almost a quarter-century older than Bryant himself. At 18, he’s that good.
Bryant with bassist Calvin Webster (middle) and drummer Caleb Crosby.
Photo by Robert M. Knight
“Tyler’s talent is undeniable,” said bassist and Fender artist relations rep Tony Franklin. “He combines the best of the old and new schools, and I believe he has a bright and long musical future ahead of him. He is a pleasure to work with and we are thrilled to have him in the Fender family of artists.”
Born in 1991, Bryant got his first guitar at age 7 and discovered the blues at the tender age of 11. So while his classmates were drinking juice boxes and watching Cartoon Network, Bryant was eagerly soaking up Lightnin’ Hopkins and Muddy Waters. He developed a close friendship with Paris, Texas, guitarist Roosevelt Twitty, which resulted in Bryant’s first public performance before he’d even turned 12.
Although steeped in blues, a concert steered him toward rock ‘n’ roll. “I started out very heavy into blues,” Bryant said. “Because that’s what hit me when I was younger—I was drawn to the soul of it. As I got older, I didn’t cut my hair for a long time and automatically got into rock ‘n’ roll (laughs). I heard the Black Crowes live—I was at a concert with a couple of my friends, and the Black Crowes walked out onstage. From that point on, I wanted to play rock.”
“But I’m also a sucker for a big pop chorus,” he adds, laughing again.
Indeed, Bryant is now a stylistically versatile guitarist and prolific songwriter with an impressive list of accomplishments well before his teens are over. In short order, he has:
- Won the Robert Johnson Foundation New Generation Award in 2007 at age 16, recognizing him as one of the most promising guitarists of that year.
- Performed at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago in July 2007.
- Appeared in Rock Prophecies, a 2008 documentary about famed rock photographer Robert Knight, who befriended Bryant very early in the young guitarist’s career.
- Performed with Kenny Wayne Shepherd at the Grammy Foundation “Music in Focus” event in Los Angeles in February 2009.
- Recorded with famed producers Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin) and Jed Leiber (Jeff Beck).
- Been invited by Vince Gill to perform at the 11th Annual Jammin’ to Beat the Blues Concert at Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium in April 2009. Gill called Tyler back out onstage for the show’s encore.
- Worked with artists including Paul Simon, Edie Brickell, Chris Duarte, Albert Lee, Steve Lukather, Alan Haynes, Dickey Betts and many others.
Tyler’s summer of 2009 holds more club gigs, more gigs with Styx and REO Speedwagon, gigs with Heart and Buddy Guy, and a special performance with B.B. King at the House of Blues in Dallas on May 31. Momentum is high right now, and he’s writing a lot of songs.
“We’re just excited to get out and play,” Bryant said. “I just wanna play all these songs I’ve been writing.”
For further Tyler Bryant info, news and tour dates, visit www.myspace.com/tylerbryantmusic.